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Daily Lives Highschool #1 by Khallandra

How to Draw Manga! Tips and Tricks: Action Scene Basics Introduction

Action scenes are a key part of any manga, whether they be a placid shoujo to a shounen mecha showdown. Action scenes are a dynamic action driven panel showing a fight or action against an inanimate object, or a passionate realisation. All of these follow a similar formula to create the action sequence.

Setting the Scene

When creating an action scene first consider the what action is being performed and how the two objects/subjects are interacting, i.e. show the force of the movement. For a person, it they are being hit, they will reaction in accordance to the force applied.A common way of achieving this is using the < shape to indicate where they are being hit. Take into consideration anatomy; if a person is being hit in the stomach they will produce a nice < shape with their head and shoulders coming forwards, whilst the hip becomes the point at the back, but if they are hit in the middle of the back there is not as much of a > shape, more a slight tilting of the head back, but little else. In another example, hitting the back of the knee will cause a person to crumple, but hitting the front directly would just push their weight backwards (and lead them into kicking back). In the rough example below, the figure is being kicked square in the stomach, sending them backwards. Flaying out arms and legs will give even more movement and 'power' to the kick. If the person is impacting a hard object they may 'bounce' a little after hitting it.

Actionlines-impact by Khallandra

Other useful effects include using close ups of faces and fists or feet to indicate the close combat and typically when fighting someone, the characters are looking at their opponent, angling the 'camera' to catch this emotion and gaze adds to the intensity of the action sequence. Showing expressions such as gritting their teeth, grimacing or yelling are also ways to convey the action sequence.

Characters being attacked need to react to their opponent, whether it's to be hit or to dodge a hit, their expression and movement needs to be considered as they need to react as much as the 'hero' of the scene.

A slightly more advanced basic technique is called 'many sections' which is portraying a fist or kick hitting so quickly it seems as if the character has multiple arms or legs. A perfect example of this is Jotaro in the manga Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure, his main technique is fast flying punches from his Stand, Star Platinum. This technique is not only used for the 'attacker'; the 'victim' can be shown with multiple heads or arms to indicate the multiple points of impact.

Jojos-oraora-nicolasis by Khallandra

Using Line Effects

Lines and hatching techniques are outlined in Tips and Tricks: Pen and Ink Techniques Article These can be used to convey a sense of speed by changing the line art and adding in impact points and speed lines to assist. Hairstyles can also be manipulated to show the force at which the character is expressing the action, using speed lines and gradating speed lines to change the intensity. Modifying the direction and adding in 'sweat drops' or 'blood splatters' will also increase the effect. The following example shows non-gradated speed lines made with a multi-liner, and gradated are lines that are thicker at one end. Speed lines are typically ruled, as non-ruled seem haphazard and can be made to start and end at the same point, indicating sudden movement (sudden start, sudden stop). Also can have different start and stop points per line or even be curved using a french curve or ellipses. Speed-lines can be used to replace sections of line art of the moving object to give it the sense of moving.

Actionlines-speedlines by Khallandra

Beta-flashes are also a useful part of an action scene, they can indicate a sudden thought or sound. They can be uniform, different shapes or even curved with a French curve. The key part of a beta-flash is they have a centre that all the lines intersect with. A common approach is to gradate the lines towards the centre, but don't cross it. The following example only shows these lines, it was made with a 0.1 technical pen. The lines are more useful if thicker at one end as the background is typically coloured black.

Actionlines-flashes by Khallandra

A final 'action' technique is the impact. It can be a freehand jagged speech bubble, or have a a combination of speed lines or a be a partial beta-flash. It doesn't even need to be a full closed point, it can be just the top or side, depending on the desired effect.

Actionlines-impacts by Khallandra

Screentones and screen tone effects can also be used to produce speed-lines and beta-flashes without having to draw them each time, the only drawback with this (other then needing to have them on hand) is that they are not as unique as having drawn them yourself, but they are an easy shortcut.

Asenshi-durara by Khallandra

References, Tutorials and Guides

The following guides and tutorials go over these ideas in much greater detail and provide some great reference poses to assist:


Action scenes are all about movement, reaction and effects. Plan out your artwork to where you want your characters interacting and what they are interacting with and modify your lineart to colouring to produce the sense of movement.

Ttgl-simon2 by Khallandra

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Add a Comment:
MariaCoffey Featured By Owner May 3, 2018
This is great!
Khallandra Featured By Owner May 4, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hope it comes in handy :D
Hannahthepadawan Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2017
but how do you draw a group of people fighting?
Khallandra Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That one fits into more Advanced Action Scenes then Basic so it's not covered here. But generally, decide what action you wish to have (e.g. punching, kicking, reacting) for each character and how they are interacting with the others. Map it out in a more storyboard format (simple stick figures or blocks) then set about trying to find a reference pose for each action (or use action figures such as Body-kun or Body-chan or any action figure).
Found -… has quite a lot of poses that might be useful.
Once you have each actors pose you can fill out your art based on your storyboard layout.
Hannahthepadawan Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2017
Yeah, the problem is I'm trying to draw basically a bloodbath taking place on a pirate ship. I don't want to zone in on one fight specifically, I just wanna show that there's a lot of fighting happening in the background.
AssassinofGotham Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the tips!
bizarreprunier Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
this is so useful!  even thought my style isn't anime,Thank you
Khallandra Featured By Owner May 1, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hope it comes in handy sometime ;)
Scorch-Art Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh hi! I see you used one of my drawings in the references (Yeh I'm pretty late, I didn't really check deviantart in the past few months)

Anyway thx. And it's a pretty nice post btw :)
Gomon87 Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Ha. Thanks for the feature lovely :D
MoshCat13 Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for mentioning my tutorial in this ^^ very nice tutorial here :0 very useful!
Khallandra Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for making such a great tut! :D
Minato-Kushina Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2015
Thank you for this so useful article! :hug: :clap:
OXNI Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ha! Exactly what I needed! Great job and thanks!
Khallandra Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you, hope it is useful at some point :iconfancydanceplz:
OXNI Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No problem man, haha I'm willing to go out on a limb here and say that it will;P
KashimusPrime Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yass! Thank you for this! Saved for future referencing! 
Khallandra Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks, hope it comes in handy sometime :D
GrandeVictoire Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
That was very helpful!
Khallandra Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you :)
Jonup Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2015
Thank from the Journal 
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Submitted on
September 25, 2015
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